Democratic lawmakers are calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of a school shooting that left 14 students and a teacher dead in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, arguing that the massacre warrants dramatic policy reforms.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) took aim at the argument that mental health reforms should be prioritized to curb violence, making the case that limiting access to firearms is needed to prevent future massacres.
14 CHILDREN AND ONE TEACHER KILLED IN TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING, GOV. ABBOTT SAYS
“I just don't understand why people here think we're powerless — we aren't, and there's just not a coincidence that we're the high-income world's deadliest nation and we have the loosest gun laws," Murphy said Tuesday afternoon. "Guns flow in this country like water, and that's why we have mass shooting after mass shooting,” he told reporters following an impassioned floor speech, noting it comes on the heels of a mass shooting at a New York grocery store.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) echoed Murphy’s calls for legislative changes, arguing that no significant policy changes have been made since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
“My heart breaks as I re-live the shock and grief of Sandy Hook 10 years ago, knowing the infinite pain that will hit these families in Texas," Blumenthal said in a statement. "No words can capture my wrenching sadness for them and for our great nation that continues to be torn apart by horrendous gun violence — taking so many beautiful lives and spreading anguish and horror.”
And Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for Republican lawmakers to support stricter gun control measures in the coming weeks.
“I implore — beg — my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in finally making changes to our gun laws to help prevent Americans from re-living this gun tragedy far too often," Durbin said. "We cannot continue to sit on our hands and allow innocent lives to be lost. Congress must act.”
While Democrats are seeking substantial changes to limit gun access, Republicans said they are open to changes that don’t limit the rights of law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“I think what we have to do every time we enter this discussion is take a look at any kind of reasonable measures, and one of those has to be a better understanding of where the threats are in the community. Just like the Buffalo shooting, we have got to do a better job of anticipating and avoiding these — because if all you do is focus on controlling weapons, people like this will find other ways to harm people,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told reporters.
“I'm happy to look at anything as long as it doesn't deny anybody rights for law-abiding citizens," Tillis said. "I've been there all along, and I've been wanting to have those discussions and will continue to.”
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused Democrats of trying to politicize the tragedy, asserting he does not see stricter gun regulations as the answer.
"You see politicians trying to politicize — you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That doesn't work,” Cruz told CNN. “It's not effective. It doesn't prevent [what we] know ... does prevent crime, which is going after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness.”
The shooting comes one day before the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold its first confirmation hearing for Steven Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.